Peter Keys has been rocking the stage and studio for over four decades. His piano and keyboard work can be heard everywhere from the Southern Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, the outrageous 420 Funk Mob featuring George Clinton, to the Hip Hop genius of Yelawolf and countless other indie bands and artists.
Keys developed an interest in music at an early age, as his parents played him to sleep on their 1923 Steinway baby grand. He began classical training at the age of four and had his first performance a year later in New Haven, Connecticut, at the Neighborhood School of Music. He continued his education in music theory and performance at Berklee College OfMusic. Peter is currently touring with the rock and roll hall of fame band Lynyrd Skynyrd
Bridge: How long have you been making music?
PK: I have been playing piano as far back as I can remember.. I started taking classical lessons at four years old. Honestly, I don’t remember not playing..
Bridge: I love that, and who would want memories without music anyways?
How would you describe your music to a first-time listener?
PK: I’d describe my sound as a hybrid..kind of like a Motown funk/soul meets swampy southern rock and delta blues. At least that’s how I hear it.
Bridge: What do you want your fans to feel when they listen to your music?
PK: I want the fans to feel uplifted, inspired and excited when the listen to my music. There’s an underlying message of positivity within the stories of how I’ve overcome obstacles that life presents us all with.
Bridge: Speaking for myself, that’s absolutely the feeling I get!
Tell us a little about what your creative process is like…
PK: My creative process varies from song to song. Sometimes inspiration comes in the form of an interesting melody or chord progression, other times a lyric or cool phrase. I’ve even had full songs come to me in dreams, which is awesome. Once I have the idea or concept, I head into my studio and start building the tracks. From there it’s all about making creative decisions with the arrangement and orchestration. Enter the rabbit hole (laughs)
Bridge: (Laughs) Ah yes, the rabbit hole!
Given your style, I’m curious about this one: What is your go-to song whenever you’re going through some hard stuff?
PK: When I’m going through hard stuff, my go to music really depends on the mood. When I lost my mother, Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky” and ‘Wish You Were Here” brought me some peace in knowing that she had merely transitioned to another level of existence..
(They also make me tear up every time I hear them now)..Music is incredibly powerful.
Bridge: Who would be your dream collaboration?
PK: My dream collaboration would be with Frank Zappa, as his sense of composition and lyrical genius really shaped how I hear things. He brought cynicism to a whole new level and made it ok to have a sense of humor and fun with music. I’d really love to do a project with
Adrian Belew as well, having played with Zappa, The Talking Heads, and King Crimson, he’s one of the most diverse and creative cats I can think of. He’s also still alive.
Bridge: Tell us about your current projects…
PK: Currently I am sitting in the studio with Yelawolf working on his new artist, Tony Martinez. Wolf and I have been working on a ton of stuff over the last few years, his Mudmouth album being one of my favorites. I have some new music in the works that I’m super excited about, so stay tuned!
Bridge: What else do you have going on that our readers should know about?
PK: I collaborated with indie film director Doltyn Snedden to create a short film about my song “Freaks” Which will be released in April. It has already won several categories in the Los Angeles independent film festival, and will be at the Aspen film festival as well as Cannes, which is all super exciting for me.